Accessibility Scheme - credit to Northern

Northern has announced details of six game-changing projects given the green light thanks to its £250,000 Accessibility Innovation Fund.

A variety of projects are included in the Accessibility Innovation Fund including the development of AI to interpret customer announcements into British Sign Language, an Accessibility Hub and engagement and interactive activities on an autistic friendly line in Lancashire.

Successful bids were chosen by the independent Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG) with support by Northern.

The fund is designed to empower communities to make decisions which will improve the railway for all and is now in its second year.  

The successful bids were chosen by the independent Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG) and supported by Northern and was set up with the aim of empowering communities to make decisions that can improve accessibility for all users of the northern railway network.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director, at Northern said: “Our customers are the heart of everything we do, and we are dedicated to making Northern’s services accessible to everyone, and to having a positive impact for the north.  

“I am happy to announce that six bids have been successful, and I would like to thank everyone who got in touch with us with their ideas.   

“The fund is part of our wider project to transform our network and encourage people to use public transport – no matter their circumstances.”  

NAUG is a pan disability user group which represents a wide-ranging group of disabilities in the communities served by Northern.

Mark Wilson, chair of NAUG, said: "The fund has again produced a wide range of ideas aimed at improving accessibility of rail travel across the Northern's network and our user group panel was faced with a very tough job to decide the winners.   

“What has been so impressive is the enthusiasm and commitment around schemes that help encourage older and disabled people to try the train for the first time, or to return to rail travel.

“When added to an inspiring focus on supporting those with less visible and sensory disabilities, we have a cracking set of awards that will continue to build passenger confidence." 

There were six successful bids for this year’s fund including the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority who were successful for their project, creating an Accessibility Hub in conjunction with TransPennine Express providing loaned mobility scooters and wheelchairs to encourage users to use rail travel to get to Meadowhall Shopping Centre.

Funds were also allocated to the Signapse project for their trail of BSL interpretation of customer information announcements using AI technology at Manchester Victoria Station.

The Cumbrian Coast Line Community Rail Partnership were supplied funds to promote active and accessible travel using user friendly display panels and traditional leaflets.

A bid was also successful to develop a programme of engagement for autistic passengers which will include interactive and accessible activities.

Community Rail Cumbria's Soulful Days Out and Chrome Angel Solutions' Accessible Travel VR Simulation were also successful in their bids.

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